Highlights from Central York's 68-61 loss to McDowell. York Dispatch
Kevin Schieler had to fight back the emotions on Wednesday night when he talked about his Central York players and the season they put together in 2019-2020.
That was difficult, especially after a game that started out in such promising fashion but ultimately ended in disappointment. A chance to become the winningest team in program history had slipped away.
Instead, the Panthers’ illustrious season came to an end.
(Erie) McDowell defeated Central York, 68-61, in a PIAA Class 6-A second-round contest.
After the game, Schieler revealed that the loss to McDowell would be his final game leading the Panthers, a program he has guided to great success over the past decade. He asked to discuss his reasons for resigning at a later time and chose to keep the focus on his players.
Central's season concludes with a 24-5 record, while District 10 champion McDowell improved to 23-3. The Panthers shared the York-Adams Division I title this season with New Oxford, won the Y-A League Tournament title and finished third in the District 3 Class 6-A playoffs.
A stellar campaign: For Schieler, the loss stung, but it didn’t remove any of the shine from the campaign his team put together.
“That doesn’t take away from what these guys did,” Schieler said. “I know they’re all disappointed, but it’s still I think the greatest team Central has ever seen. The loss tonight doesn’t take away the 24 wins (tied for the program record), the league title or advancing this far in the best classification in Pennsylvania. While it hurts and while they’re all beat up about it, it doesn’t take away from what they did.”
After the Panthers got off to a blazing-hot start, the Trojans caught fire themselves toward the end of the first half and gained the momentum headed into the locker room. Central’s once 13-point advantage after the first eight minutes, shrunk to six at halftime as McDowell’s offense picked up.
“We came out really, really hot,” Schieler said. “There’s no way we were going to sustain that. We were not going to sustain that on the defensive end. We knew they were going to come back into the game.”
Battling Jeffress: The Trojans did more than just come back after halftime, they took over control of the game in the third quarter. Junior standout William Jeffress Jr. had five of his game-high 18 points in the quarter. The Trojans, meanwhile, took advantage of some turnovers by the Panthers to win the quarter by nine points and led by three points headed into the fourth quarter.
From the time Central York equaled its largest lead in the second quarter at, 33-20, McDowell responded with a 27-12 run through the end of the third quarter and grabbed the momentum from the Panthers.
“As a coaching staff, we gotta do a better job of keeping the team’s composure and not letting it rattle us,” Schieler said of McDowell’s spurt. “I think it’s natural for players, when everything is going right, to forget about what little things made that happen and it’s easier for the players to lose their composure. When they went on their run, I don’t think we got settled quick enough and by that point (against) a team as good as McDowell, sometimes it’s too late.”
The Panthers didn’t give up in the final eight minutes. Junior Kai’ryn Brown delivered six of his eight points in the final quarter off the bench to keep his team close.
The game plan: Central York’s game plan was to try to slow down the NCAA-Division I bound Jeffress and attempt to stop any of his teammates from having a big night, much like the Central plans of old against former Spring Grove star Eli Brooks.
On this night, the Panthers were unable to make that happen. A trio of other Trojans poured in double-digit scoring performances and drilled clutch 3-pointers when the Panthers’ defensive attention was on Jeffress.
“One of our hopes was to not let another guy go off,” Schieler said. “Jeffress is so good, you can’t contain him. We didn’t do a good job of that.”
The Panthers cut the lead down to two points with just under three minutes to go, but struggled to generate good looks at the basket after that, which allowed the Trojans to clinch the victory at the foul line.
Eisenhart leads Panthers: Senior Evan Eisenhart led the Panthers with 15 points, while fellow senior Trey Sweigart added 10, including a pair of 3-pointers in his dominant first quarter.
Although the season ended before they had hoped, Schieler couldn’t have been more proud of the year his team had. In his last game coaching the team, the Panthers showed him why they had so much success this year by fighting until the final buzzer sounded.
“They all are going to play hard every single moment they’re on the floor,” Schieler said. “That’s what makes them so great to coach and actually so difficult to coach. Every guy stepping on the floor is busting his butt and when he comes out of the game, he wants to get right back in there. It makes it a lot of fun to coach these guys, but it makes it so hard because you see them wear their heart on their sleeve and you see how heartbroken they are. I think it’s the best team this program has ever seen and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Reach Rob Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.